Many of us dream of running a half-marathon or even a full marathon one day. But for Ashmoret Mishal, even a full marathon is child’s play. She runs ultramarathons, which range in distance from 100 kilometers to 200 kilometers.
In November 2015, she ran a 200-kilometer race that took her just under 39 hours.
For a day and a half, she didn’t stop moving; even eating was done while running or walking. Fruit, chocolate, sandwiches and energy bars were her source of sustenance as well as water with minerals and salts.
A few miles before the end, she almost quit.
“Nothing mattered anymore for me. All of my values disappeared at that point because it was so tough,” she recalls. “I was crying, just sitting down, and being depressed. That was the moment where I realized that the ultramarathon is not worth anything if you don’t hit that point where you want to quit.”
The true experience only begins then, she says. “The idea is to test yourself and prove to yourself that you can overcome that challenge mentally, even though physically you are not capable of it,” she explains.
“The idea is to use your heart and your brain to overcome it.”
Mishal has been running since she was a teenager, but credits her decision to run ultramarathons to Kobi Oren, a famous ultramarathon runner.
“It was four or five miles before the end [of a regular 26-mile marathon] and I was so exhausted,” she says. “He was running next to me and I saw he had no pain. He said, ‘This is just a warm-up for me – I’m running 100 kilometers today,’ and I discovered this whole new world of ultramarathons.
I like challenges.”
AT JUST 26, Mishal has recently taken on a new challenge: using what she has learned to help people reach their business goals.
Based on a 12-step formula she developed called the Ultra-Leadership Method, she began her business coaching in Israel via running sessions.
“We would do a 45-minute workout and then discuss how we can implement that skill to achieve our goals in daily life.”
Her 12-step program can be applied to any goal that is “specific and measurable,” she says, whether it’s losing weight or running a marathon.
Recently, she has begun focusing on startup companies, helping to define both their short-term and their “ultra-goals,” meaning goals for the next three to five years. She also helps companies set midterm goals to be achieved in a year, and short-term goals, which can be completed in three months.
“All of these goals should lead to each other,” she says. “Your short-term goal should lead to your mid-term goal and your mid-term goal is a milestone for your ultra-goal.”
Goals must fit the SMART method, she says, meaning they should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.
She also offers training sessions online or in her book “Ultra Success: 12 Steps to Power Performance.”
One company she has worked with is Organized Trip, a New York-based firm developing a way to manage organized travel.
Cofounder Andrew Davidsburg, who has led six Birthright trips to Israel, hired Mishal to help him and his team set and reach their goals as a start-up.
“She is laser-focused,” he says. “She pushes us, but always with a smile.”
He hired Mishal for 10 sessions that he says were crucial in bringing the company to the verge of launching.
“If we hadn’t hired her, we’d probably be in the same position we were six months ago, talking in circles about where we price and position ourselves,” he says.
In fact, he found her input so valuable that he has asked her to continue working part-time in exchange for equity in the company – an offer Mishal accepted.
MISHAL WAS born in Haifa and grew up in Hod Hasharon. During high school, she spent three years in Chicago, where her mother completed a post-doctorate in brain research.
She served in the IDF as a soldier-teacher at the Neot Kedumim Nature Reserve, where she also began studying leadership training.
She says her time in the army taught her important lessons, including hard work and following orders. At the same time, she realized that she didn’t especially enjoy following orders, and decided to strike out on her own.
“During the military, I faced different kinds of challenges,” she says. “It is hard to maintain high levels of motivation during all times of one’s service, especially under the pressures we face in the Israeli army.
Since there was no possibility of giving up or quitting because military service is mandatory for everyone, I developed higher levels of stamina and naturally improved my coping techniques.”
After her army service, she continued training Israeli soldiers and special forces in leadership training before moving to New York, in 2015, to grow her business.
Mishal says she is inspired by her grandfather, Yaakov Mishal, who immigrated to the nascent State of Israel in the 1950s from Iraq with nothing, and built a successful real estate business.
Mishal’s dedication to her success has paid off. She has been featured in various magazines, including EPN, a magazine for entrepreneurs, and has an active YouTube channel.
She is also continuing her running career.
In the summer, she is planning a 200- kilometer run in Leadville, Colorado, to raise money to build playgrounds in the new Negev town of Carmit.
Although New York is seen as a tough market to crack, she says, growing up in Israel has given her a leg up.
“We [Israelis] have a lot of advantages in terms of creativity, flexibility and thinking outside the box. At the same time, we don’t have the culture of corporate America. They know how to operate big systems and corporations.”